This article was updated on 4 October, 2022. It features Jessica Rowe talking about grief.
What has grief taught you?
“I’m like so many people in our culture, so I don’t do grief well. Very few of us do grief well. We don’t talk about it enough, we shy away from it, we’re frightened of it.”
“It’s good to remember that grief can cover all aspects of your life. It’s not necessarily just about the loss of someone you love, although that’s the really obvious one. But we all suffer all sorts of griefs – for example, loss of a career and loss of part of ourselves.”
“When I think about grief, I know that there is so much that is still in front of me. My parents are still alive, so I haven’t had to deal with the worst of grief. I know that when my parents die that will be terrible and I haven’t had to confront that yet.”
“So up to this point, I feel lucky. But I know it’s coming, so I don’t like to look at it.”
“When I talk about their deaths with my parents Dad’s very matter of fact. “He says, ‘I don’t mind what you do, I’m not worried about any of the funeral arrangements, just do what you feel you have to. If I happen to die right now, please don’t be sad. I’ve had a great life, I love you and I want you to know that.’”
“On the other hand, my best friend Denise Drysdale has got a lot of the details organised for her funeral. She’s planned the music, the drinks and a lot of other things. She also wants to have a tube from a bottle of champagne, going into her casket, and that just makes me laugh so much.”
“We sometimes have the idea that everything about a funeral has to be reverent and really sombre. But it doesn’t. We have to ask ourselves ‘What is the best way to farewell this fantastic person?’ With Denise it’ll be the tube from the champers. The good thing is that today we don’t have to get caught up in a ceremony that isn’t a true reflection of the person.”
“It’s a strange thing to say but for our family, one of the most profound experiences of grief we’ve had together involved our beautiful pussycat Alfie. We’re like so many people, who’ve had really meaningful relationships with our family pet and I think sometimes people underestimate the impact of a pet on our lives.”
“My husband Peter and I got Alfie just after we got back from our honeymoon. He was part of our lives when the girls were born. But at sixteen and a half, we realised his health was failing and he had to be sent off to the rainbow bridge where all the pets go.”
“As a family, it was so upsetting for us and that included our daughters as well. My youngest daughter asked ‘How am I going to live without him being at the end of my bed, where he’s been every day of my life?’”
“It led to a family discussion about what was happening to Alfie. After the decision was made, we had a week with Alfie cuddling him, taking photos, just being with him. We spent time saying goodbye. It was a lovely thing to share as a family. Then the vet came to our house and she talked through what would happen. He died in our arms and we also shared that as a family. It was a beautiful moment and afterwards we spoke about how extraordinary it is that we can do that for our animals, but not for humans. It was so sad, but Alfie’s death was also an incredibly special thing to share together as a family.”
“It prompted all sorts of questions about death and what happens at the end of life. I had to say, ‘I don’t know what happens’ and then we agreed that the rainbow bridge is where the pets wait to be reunited with their owners. And that became a nice way to think about it. I hadn’t expected that sort of discussion.”
“I don’t believe in God as such, instead, I believe in a spiritual force. I try to explain this to my children, who get snippets of religion through school. Questions have come up. ‘What is the Holy Spirit, how can he be part of God but separate?’ One of my daughters answered that one with ‘The Holy Spirit is what God drinks in Heaven.’ And I thought ‘What a wonderful way of thinking about it!”
What is Covid-19 teaching you
“Covid-19 is teaching me to be present, just to stop, even though at times that’s infuriating. It can be boring and I always like to have a project on the boil, so I get very restless. But I’m learning how just to be present in the moment and to really find the joy in those small things.”
“Our big world has diminished, so I think it’s looking for those small silver linings that’s important right now. Now I go for a slow dawdle around the neighbourhood as my dog stops and sniffs every post and tree. We amble slowly and then we meet the magpies around the corner. I heard recently that magpies can recognise 100 different people. So I like to think that ours recognise us and I say hello to them. That’s something that wouldn’t have registered with me before, it’s one of many things I didn’t make the time to do before. So that change in me is a gift – a strange, unexpected gift from Covid-19.
Jessica Rowe is a television star, author and the passionate ‘crap housewife’ diarist, who can be found at https://www.craphousewife.com/
Want to lighten up a little about this heavy subject. Watch this hilarious and heart-warming video.
Other reflections from Good Grief! include: